The Portuguese second division goes under the Chinese flag

The Portuguese second division goes under the Chinese flag

Portuguese fans will have to get used to seeing Chinese players in their league. Chinese multinational Ledmann will, from next season, be the main sponsor of the Portuguese second-tier football league, whose clubs should welcome Chinese players in return.

The agreement signed on Monday in Beijing, the value of which was not disclosed, provides for the integration of Chinese players into Portuguese second-division clubs. “to contribute to their training”Germano Almeida, Communications Director of the Portuguese Football League, explained.

Ten players and three assistant coaches

Ledman said in a statement that ten Chinese players and three assistant coaches will be integrated into Portuguese clubs; It is a number that the Spanish League refuses to confirm. This announcement raised some concerns in Portugal, particularly from the Professional Footballers’ Association. “We do not understand that the league accepts that an economic group impose players on clubs and coaches.”Her boss, Joaquim Evangelista, worried.

Details of the deal were not disclosed. It would be surprising if a match quota was imposed on the clubs that will play for their new recruits. Such an advertisement would in no way fail to anger the local gamers. In reality, “No one can force the rental of a player at a club, it is prohibited by FIFA, the Portuguese Football Association and the league rules.”confirmed the lawyer specializing in sports law, Me Joao Manteigas.

‘The rules are tougher for foreigners’he adds, however “There is a way to get around them by giving clubs a bonus for hiring Chinese players: as long as there is nothing compulsory, it is perfectly legal.”. In 2015, second-division clubs provided the league with a financial compensation net, which is supposed to serve as a basis for negotiating with the Chinese sponsor.

The Chinese company, a manufacturer of light-emitting diodes (LED) based in Shenzhen, southern China, also announced that the Portuguese second-division championship will now be called Lidman Proleja. The name change has not been decided yet, but it is a hypothesis. Do we recognize the side of the Portuguese Federation, adding that It will be the first in Europe. for the Chinese Shepherd.

Irrespective of the nationality of the sponsor, this is nothing new as a large number of professional European football leagues already bear the names of the sponsors. Not to be outdone is the Portuguese First Division, which for many years was called Liga Sagres, named after a Portuguese brewer. It changed its name at the start of the 2015-2016 season to now “Liga Nos”. Nos is a Portuguese-Angolan telecom group.

European precedents

David Cameron and Chinese President Xi Jinping visit the Manchester City Academy on 1 December.

At the same time, the Portuguese League announced the signing of an “agreement in principle” with its Chinese counterpart, the outlines of which are still unclear. “La Liga Portugal will be able to help the Chinese league with its expertise in terms of marketing, organization of competitions and financial fair play”identifies the Portuguese organization.

Read also The end of the story between Peugeot and FC Sochaux

This is not the first Chinese breakthrough in European football: Manchester City sold 13% of its shares in December to a consortium of investment funds China Media Capital and CITIC Capital for around 375 million euros. Rastar, a manufacturer of toys and volume models, agreed in December with several shareholders of Espanyol Barcelona, ​​in a deal giving it control of 80% of its shares.

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In the spring, the real estate and entertainment giant Wanda conglomerate acquired 20% of Atletico Madrid for 45 million euros. In France, the Sochaux club moved under the Chinese flag to the Ledus company, which also specializes in… LED lights.

In 2007, when Benfica Lisbon, the country’s most successful club (72 National Cups), signed Yu Dabao, an 18-year-old striker, European football had not set its eyes on China. If from a sporting point of view his contribution was minimal – three League Cup appearances before playing in two second-division clubs and returning to the country in 2009 – his time in Portugal will have the merit of attracting the attention and investment appetite of the Chinese. . After nearly ten years, the Chinese presence in Portuguese football is no longer discreet.

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